Is it a life estate when a son lets his old mother live on his property for free without any documentation?

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Is it a life estate when a son lets his old mother live on his property for free without any documentation?

My husband bought a house 34 years ago; 25 years ago he let his mother move in the back cottage without paying any rent (only some utilities). She does not have any deed or document of life estate yet claims she has life tenancy. The house has been in a trust for the last 6 years with no provision for the mother or life estate for her. My husband died 2 years ago and the house has passed through the trust onto me. I (as my husband had before) carry the full financial burden of ownership of the property; she pays nothing. She is 84 and claims elderly abuse anytime something breaks and is not fixed ASAP. How can I get her out?

Asked on November 16, 2011 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The best way for you to resolve this family situation is for you to consult with a real estate attorney who practices Wills and trusts as well. If the mother-in-law has no life estate in the property that she is presently occupying set forth in a written document, her occupation of the unit was probably a "gift" from her son, your deceased husband.

If you want her out of the unit where she essentially pays nothing for it, you have the option of giving her a thirty day termination of the tenancy and move forward with an unlawful detainer action if need be.

Rather than doing that, perhaps having her sign a written lease where she is to pay a set monthly amount for the unit she is occupying is the best way to resolve the situation you are in assuming she is willing to do so?


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